Mexican Cauliflower “Rice” ♥

Mexican Cauliflower Rice, more Mexican meal prep ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Cauliflower Meal Prep! Turn a head of cauliflower into a stand-in for rice for Taco Tuesday and so much more. We love this dish, so healthy, so flavorful. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. graphic button small size size 10

LET IT BE SAID Mexican is a totally food-prep friendly cuisine! When we did a month-long deep dive into Mexican cooking last spring, what fun – and the easiest cooking I've ever done in my entire life. (Want to know more about that project? See Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep. )

A big reason is that I'd do some meal prep every day. After that, dinner (and lunch and especially breakfast) kind of made themselves.

One of our favorites then (and still, four months later) was Mexican Cauliflower "Rice" – not rice at all, of course, but one of cauliflower's many low-carb chameleon acts. Cauliflower doesn't just masquerade as rice but also as potatoes, even chickpeas. There's a whole section here with all my cauliflower recipes. Check them out!

Summer Vegetable Curry ♥

Summer Vegetable Curry ♥, great for summer vegetables at their peak.
graphic button small size size 10 One of my very favorite summer stews, vegan and delicious and a great way to use a collection of vegetables from a CSA or the farmers market when the produce season is at its peak. Seasonal. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly. Paleo. graphic button small size size 10

~updated for a little late-summer weekend cooking inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

By design, most vegetable recipes here on A Veggie Venture are simple and thus nearly always feature a single vegetable at a time. But there are times – now! – when the market's vegetables are so plentiful, eyes exceed appetite and soon it's almost Saturday again and the vegetable bin is still overflowing from last week's purchases.

This Summer Vegetable Curry is an Indian-spiced riff on 2005's Summer Vegetable Stew. Like many vegetable stews, it's perfect way to use up a lot of vegetables all at once. It takes some chopping and dicing but in the end, is completely delicious both hot and cold. I especially like it cold, doused in a simple splash of cream. Swoon ...

It turns out, these vegetable stews are something I look forward to when there's so much fresh produce in late July, August and September – so much that I have an entire collection of Favorite Seasonal Vegetable Stews!

For this Curry, the vegetables I see as "mandatory" – and even then, take such guidance with a grain, ahem, of salt – are the eggplant (for bulk) and the tomatoes (for moisture) and the corn (for a touch of sweetness). I serve it warm with a cool Greek Yogurt Sauce as creamy contrast (wonderful!) and a poached egg on top. Once again, swoon ...

Chickpea Recipes & Garbanzo Bean Recipes ♥ Alphabet of Vegetables

Wondering what to make with chickpeas besides hummus? Find new ways to cook chickpeas in this collection of Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Recipes ♥ Many Weight Watchers, vegan, gluten-free and low-carb recipes from everyday to good for company.
graphic button small size size 10 Never know what to do with chickpeas aka garbanzo beans? (Except making homemade hummus. You do make hummus, right?) Or on the other hand, maybe you're always looking for brand-new ways to cook with chickpeas? Find new inspiration right here in this collection of Chickpea Recipes / Garbanzo Bean Recipes from A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade, my food column. Many Weight Watchers friendly, vegan and gluten-free recipes from simple for every day to special for occasions. graphic button small size size 10

IN A RUSH? Prefer Another Vegetable?
Skip Straight to the Chickpea Recipes or Switch to the A-Z of Vegetables.

Chickpeas 101: THE BASICS
Pronounced [chik-pee]. Other Names for Chickpeas. Also called Chick Peas and Garbanzo Beans. Also known as Gram or Bengal Gram and some times as Egyptian Peas. Also called Ceci, Cece or Channa or Chana or Kabuli Chana.

What Are Chickpeas? Chickpeas are legumes – legumes, of course, being plants in the bean family – and thus cousins to soy beans, mung beans, lima beans, fava beans, lentils, peas and yes, even the peanuts we love so much in peanut butter! Chickpeas are a native of southwest Asia and have been grown in rotation crops back to the Roman times. Chickpeas show up frequently in Middle Eastern and Indian foods.

FRESH CHICKPEAS Chickpeas, of course, start off fresh and spring-green in color, they're quite pretty! See pictures here, what fresh chickpeas look like – but good luck finding fresh chickpeas. And then be prepared for the shelling process to go slooooowly.
DRIED CHICKPEAS Dried chickpeas are easy to find in nearly all grocery stores along with other dried beans and peas, look near the canned beans. They're usually packaged in plastic bags, I also seem them in bulk bins. Do shop in a store with high turnover, that's because dried beans stored too long or at too warm a temperature don't cook well, see Why Dried Beans Won't Cook. In fact, when I bring home packages of dried beans and chickpeas, I write the purchase date and location on the package. Then in the fall, usually after some months without cooking too many beans during warm weather, I throw away what's on hand unless the packages were purchased during the summer.
CANNED CHICKPEAS No doubt, most cooks reach for canned chickpeas when we need chickpeas. They're inexpensive and shelf-stable, easy to keep on hand. That said? They're also so-so salty and chickpea-for-chickpea, several times more expensive. I rely mostly on dried beans but also keep canned chickpeas on hand.
CHICKPEA FLOUR This is ground chickpeas, it's also called gram flour and besan flour. Chickpea flour is a gluten-free flour, the basis of socca, a French flatbread and farinata, the Italian version.
AQUAFABA You might not believe this but right now, "aquafaba" is the hottest form of chickpeas. What's aquafaba? You know how we rinse canned chickpeas? Well, aquafaba is that goopy liquid that goes down the drain. Save it! It turns out, that gunky stuff has amazing properties that make it a vegan substitute for eggs in meringues, mayonnaise and some very creative concoctions.
HUMMUS! But really and truly, isn't the most common form of chickpeas the one that's mixed with the sesame-seed paste called tahini? You know ... hummus! But here's the thing. Food writers get all kinds of grief when we title recipes "chickpea hummus". (We do that to distinguish between hummus made with the traditional chickpeas and variations made with lima beans, cauliflower, etc. Good cooks everywhere grind all sorts of beans into paste-y spreads.) But the thing is, pairing the two words "chickpea" and "hummus" together is like an unintended stutter, repeating the same word twice. Like "noodle pasta" or "salt sodium". Because in their original context, the word "hummus" literally means "chickpeas". In fact, even the "hummus" is just shorthand for the longer phrase, hummus bi tahina, "hummus with tahini". Fun, yes? But trust me, our misuse drives certain people c-r-a-z-y.

Party Conversation Cicero, the Roman orator, was named for the lowly chickpea, from the Latin word for chickpea, cicer. graphic button small size size 10 The shape of dried chickpeas have been compared to "rams heads" and "hawk faces". graphic button small size size 10 Israel, Egypt and Lebanon all claim to have originated hummus. Lebanon unsuccessfully sought protected status for hummus as a Lebanese product. graphic button small size size 10 Israel and Lebanon vie for domination in the "hummus wars" – where hummus weighs in by the ton.

Chickpeas in Special Diets. Chickpeas are naturally gluten-free. Chickpeas are derived from plants so naturally, are vegan. Chickpeas are South Beach friendly (Phase 1 and Phase 2) and Weight Watchers friendly. In fact, for Weight Watchers, chickpeas are "free" in the Freestyle program! Naturally, specific preparations matter to both of these eating regimens. Chickpeas are not accepted in the paleo, keto and Whole30 food plans.

Sources. Personal experience and accumulated learning, also the most-wonderful On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee aka the "Curious Cook", The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg and most recently, The Carrot Purple and Other Curious Stories of the Food We Eat by Joel S. Denker.


Are Chickpeas High in Protein? Yes and NO. The common wisdom is that chickpeas are high in protein – and they are, compared to many plants. However, among legumes, soybeans (especially) plus fava beans, lentils, mung beans and peas all contain more protein than chickpeas. So much for common wisdom. And there's a huge difference between how much protein can be derived from chickpeas (a cup of cooked chickpeas has under 7g of protein) and common animal proteins (3 ounces of cooked chicken breast has more than 26g). Please don't take this as "anti-vegetarian" or "anti-vegan" – no one is more passionate about eating plant-based real food, just check out Vegan Done Real. But I'm also passionate about helping everyone, myself included, make informed eating choices. End of soapbox!

Fattoush (Traditional Middle Eastern Salad) ♥ Recipe

Fattoush (Middle Eastern Salad with Romaine, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Fried Pita Chips and Lemon-Sumac Dressing), another creative summer salad ♥
graphic button small size size 10 It takes a lot of words to describe what is in fact a super-simple traditional Lebanese / Syrian / Middle Eastern salad. So instead, just learn this one word and repeat after me: Fattoush. Fattoush. Fattoush. (That's fuh-toosh, fuh-toosh, fuh-toosh.) Now? Go make one. You really don't want to miss this classic summer tomato salad while this year's tomatoes are so perfect! Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

Dear St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
A certain St. Louis food blogger is wild for the Fattoush Salad at Ranoush, the Syrian restaurants in University City and now in Kirkwood. Would you please see if the owners would share the recipe? Please, pretty please?
That Certain Food Blogger

Since February, I've been writing a weekly column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called "Special Request" – the one where St. Louisans write in to ask for recipes for their favorite dishes from restaurants. It's a kick! (See St. Louis Restaurant Recipes.)

But every once in awhile, I am tempted to game the system and send in my own request. Now that'd be cheating but I've been extra-tempted all summer long, ever since Ranoush opened a second location just a few blocks from home.

Ranoush is my kinda place. Good food. Open late! (The "Kirkwood Dinner Bell" rings at five so finding good food after 8pm here can be tricky!) Friendly owner and staff. A big patio with red umbrellas that brightens a too-long empty corner right in the midst of our little downtown. We've been at least three times – and I've suggested it for lunch and supper and a late-night snack at least that many times again – but have ordered only one thing, the fattoush salad. (Well, two, actually, but the amazing hummus will have to wait for another day.) The fattoush salad is made with romaine and tomatoes in a lemony-garlicky-sweetish vinaigrette and checkered with crisp squares of just-out-of-the-fryer pita bread. OH MY.

Tomato Bisque ♥ Recipe

Tomato Bisque ♥, start with Marcella Hazan's Famous Tomato-Onion Sauce.
Today's rich tomato soup, a creamy tomato bisque that starts off with the famous Tomato-Onion Sauce from the now-deceased Italian cook Marcella Hazan who introduced Italian cuisine to the U.S. and Britain in the way that Julia Child introduced French cuisine. I make Hazan's Tomato-Onion Sauce with fresh tomatoes instead of the usual canned tomatoes. It's stunning!

Aren't tomatoes summer vegetables? (Yeah-yeah-yeah, tomatoes are really fruit not vegetables. But go with me, okay?) Last year, we harvested our first tomato in late June – and then not one more until late August! Most years here in Missouri and much of the Midwest, our best tomatoes are harvested in September and in good years, even well into October. That means that when the food blog world is humming Christmas carols obsessing over fall apples and all-things-pumpkin, our garden is still spitting out beautiful tomatoes.

And yes, such bounty can be overwhelming. By mid September, we've had our fill of Old Liz's Old-Fashioned Cucumber & Tomato Salad, BLTs and even BATTLE Sandwiches. Yet the tomatoes still stack up and up and up.

Even for an I-don't-put-foods-up seasonal cook like me, I am happy to use up bushels of ripe garden tomatoes to put aside some rich tomato sauce, my version of Marcella Hazan's famous Tomato-Onion Sauce. Mine's made with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. It's so simple, a real revelation. It's not diet food but supremely satisfying.

The first batch or two, I scraped the skins off the tomatoes with a standing cheese grater, an effective albeit messy business. Loathe to lose any tomato essence, I then tossed the skins into the pot with the tomato flesh, fully intending to pull out the skins later. But when it came time to give the tomatoes, well, a whirl in the blender? I just chucked it all in and lucky thing, the skins disappeared! It all makes for a slightly rustic Tomato-Onion Sauce but not so much that you'd really notice. The next batch or two? I just chopped the tomatoes and threw them into the pot, skins and all. So much easier!

Some Tomato-Onion Sauce went into the freezer but one batch, I made Tomato Bisque. Twas a mighty quiet supper that night, silently slurping small servings (ha! all those sibilant s's!) of an ultra-rich totally-tomato soup. I'm adding this soup to a collection of "House Recipes" for fall's very best ripe tomatoes.

That said, if you're not up for an indulgence right now, for a much less-rich tomato soup made with fresh tomatoes, try Summer's Tomato Soup. Or if tomatoes are out of season, try Winter Tomato Soup which roasts canned tomatoes to draw out summer flavor. Both are long- long-time favorites, you won't be disappointed and will save many calories.

Fresh Three-Bean Salad ♥ Recipe

Fresh Three-Bean Salad 'lightened up' ♥
graphic button small size size 10 The traditional three-bean salad – or hey! a wonderful two-bean salad when yellow beans are nowhere to be found as in my recent photo update! The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, they did a "recipe makeover" with fresh green beans instead of canned green beans. Me? I took Cook's Illustrated's recipe and did an even bigger makeover, making it lighter with way-way less oil and way-way less sugar. The results? Fabulous. Low Carb. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2007~
~more recently updated recipes~

How is it that so many great potluck dishes rely on canned vegetables? Maybe it's because they're dashed together before church or an afternoon gathering? No matter.

Making a three-bean salad with fresh beans – when you can, with a mix of yellow and green beans, is especially pretty! – does take longer but the outcome is, well, praise-worthy. In fact, it wouldn't take much longer to double the recipe, which is what I'll do next time, this is so good! And don't hesitate to just make the salad with just green beans, that third bean is really for color, not taste.

The recipe inspiration came from a Cook's Illustrated e-mail. I've lightened it considerably, dropping the oil from 8 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons, the sugar from 12 tablespoons first to 4 tablespoons and then to 2 tablespoons. These changes really make the salad all about the beans – and isn't that the point? After all, the recipe name isn't "Oil and Sugar Salad." I questioned the introduction of parsley but in the end, was glad I kept it in. Parsley adds important new dimensions of flavor and freshness.

Turkish Cucumber-Tomato-Olive Chopped Salad with Sumac ♥

Turkish Cucumber-Tomato-Olive Chopped Salad with Sumac, another healthy summer salad ♥ Vegan. Low Carb. WW Friendly. Totally Addictive.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's gorgeous summer salad: A colorful crunchy mix of fresh-fresh summer vegetables in a lemony dressing spiced with the delightful sourness of sumac plus cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. It makes a great supper salad or better yet, a salad for a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern meze platter. Weight Watchers Friendly, just 1 Freestyle point. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Primal. Vegetarian. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". And naturally, completely delicious. graphic button small size size 10

So yeah, call me summer's broken record. Every year about this time I am surprised to experience the same thing: just how easy and fun it is to cook when tonight's tomatoes were picked from the garden this morning, when we've been waiting/watching patiently for just the right moment to pluck an expanding green pepper from the vine, not too big, not too small.

Not that there's any cooking to throw together this little gem of a salad, just some quality time with a knife and cutting board, is all.

This Turkish Chopped Salad was a very-last-minute addition to a family swim party, good thing we all played hard in the pool because man-alive, did we ever eat! Green Chile Burgers topped with jack cheese and the oh-so-gorgeous Green Chile Sauce (Salsa Verde) I'd made the night before. Ratatouille filled with vegetables from the garden. We were so full, so satisfied that instead of making the peach cobbler I'd intended, I plopped the kids at the kitchen table with a jug of milk and Banana Oatmeal Cookies. My kinda party.

Now this crew rarely raves. But the Green Chile Sauce and this Turkish Chopped Salad, they got compliments. And more compliments. And more compliments.

I'll take a little credit but mostly, the garden earned all the accolades. The peppers this year are oh-so-good and I really do recommend skin-thinned garden peppers here (and the green ones, to boot) versus their thicker-skinned grocery store Dutch bell pepper counterparts.